12 Jan Tea with Tara: Meet Design Consultant Jillian
Describe your perfect day.
I would start my day waking up early when it’s still dark out. The house would be quiet while I have my tea and watch HGTV. I would be up so early that I would get to see the sun come up and notice all the pretty colors in the sky. I would have brunch with my family (because who doesn’t love the opportunity to have dessert with breakfast?) and then we would spend the day together as a family, playing games, enjoying warm weather walks with friends, and visiting some open houses. In the morning I would be near my home outside of Philly but by the afternoon I would be in NYC, walking the city streets, exploring, and going out with my husband that night for dinner and drinks and ending the night with my favorite chocolate peanut butter frozen yogurt for dessert.
Do you have a hobby or passion outside the world of interiors?
Decorating and design is my hobby. It’s my favorite thing to do. In addition to thinking about interiors, I have always loved houses and enjoy looking at real estate, learning about different neighborhoods, and searching for new homes for me or my friends. When I lived in New York, I used to spend Sunday mornings going to open houses. I loved thinking about each space, what the floorplan could be, and finding the best value in a great building. Now living in the suburbs, I’ve developed a real love of old houses and an appreciation for their details and quirks.
How does travel near or far influence your lifestyle and/or work?
There is so much beauty in the world and I try to appreciate it daily. Day to day, that could be just noticing the color of the leaves in the afternoon sun or studying the architectural details of the old homes in my neighborhood as I walk my dog. But I’ve also been fortunate to travel to some amazing places and see colors, designs and lifestyles so different than mine. I love bringing items from those places back into my home — a painting from Thailand, apothecary jars from Argentina, and a small beaded frame from Italy. Having those items around remind me of my travels and all the memories I’ve created with my loved ones from each place.
If you weren’t designing spaces, what would you be doing?
I studied graphic design in college and fell in love with package design. When I graduated, I moved to New York and worked in cosmetic packaging for many years at Clinique and then later designing for Revlon and Almay. I worked on all aspects of cosmetic packaging — designing the primary and secondary packaging for skincare, fragrance, makeup, Gift With Purchase programs, and holiday sets. A highlight from my time there was that my handwriting was featured on a fragrance, Clinique Happy To Be, and was highlighted in all of the packaging and advertisements. The concept was that Happy To Be was a personal expression of happiness so what’s more personal than handwriting? It was amazing to be a part of that project from initial concept to final production, and being involved in all aspects of the design — even reviewing packaging details at plants and presses throughout Europe. It was a wonderful opportunity and though I’ve been out of the cosmetic packaging industry for nearly a decade now, I still love and appreciate great packaging.
Can you share a personal goal or hope for your future?
I have some house goals for the coming years like transitioning our third floor from a kids playroom to a more tween and teen appropriate hang-out space. Some new furniture and, of course, storage will help but there are two details I’m most excited about — removing drywall in one section to expose an old brick chimney that I’m pretty sure is hiding behind there (fingers crossed!) and I’m researching options for a custom neon sign to hang over the sofa. I can see it in my head and it could be awesome. Now I just need to make it and surprise my kids with it!
Another house goal is a very small but personal one. One of the first purchases I made for our house years ago was wallpaper for our powder room featuring frames in all shapes and sizes. I thought it would be fun to tape items up on the wall, in the “frames” but I never did and for 10 years, it was pretty plain. During the pandemic, though, I came across some old photos and started taping them up. Six months later, I added a few more and just recently I added to it again. I still have a ways to go to fill up every frame but I am loving the personal touch and seeing these adorable photos every day.
And then outside of the home, I’m hoping to do a lot more traveling and exploring in the coming year. Home is 100% my happy place but during the pandemic, I’ve become even more of a homebody than I used to be. I’m looking forward to seeing new places and towns, trying new restaurants and experiences. An almost weekly discussion with my husband now is what to do next summer — where to go, how to get there, and all of the interesting, new-to-us places we can visit along the way.
We all can’t wait for the world to fully open up again. When that day comes, where would you go, if money and time were no object?
Italy, definitely. I love it there. I studied in Italy for a summer when I was in college, staying with a local family in Todi, a small town in the Umbria region. I took art, art history and Italian classes while I was there and through the program, we traveled to Florence, Venice, Rome and every small town along the way. It was one of the most beautiful and special places I’ve ever been to and it has the most delicious gelato. I’m still talking about Pianegiani Bar Gelateria in Todi and cannot wait until I can one day bring my family there with me so they can understand why I’ve been raving about it all these years. My family and I went to Lake Como in northern Italy a few years ago and loved it. I hope to go back sometime soon and explore more. It’s one of my favorite places.